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Chenin Blanc

Chenin Blanc is an incredibly versatile grape, that can produce wines ranging from dry to sweet, mineral to fruity. It is native to the Loire Valley in France, but due to its vigour and versatility it has spread to many other wine regions around the world. The biggest plantings outside of France, however, are in South Africa, where it is known as Steen.

In the Loire Valley, Chenin is used to make single-varietal, dry wines in appellations such as Anjou, where the grape’s naturally high acidity creates wines of freshness and minerality. A bit further down the road in Vouvray, Chenin is used to make a more full-bodied, richer style of white, that often shows quince and apple aromas. In Coteaux de Layon, noble rot is encouraged on the vines, creating a sweet, botrytis dessert wine. Chenin is also produced throughout the Loire using the Champagne Method, to create the sparkling wine Cremant de Loire. Regardless of the style of wine, the acidity the is retained in the Loire Valley, acts as a perfect foil for the natural fruitiness of the grape.

In South Africa, the wines made from Chenin show less acid and more tropical fruit notes. Here the grape is used to express rich aromas of guava, pineapple and pear. These wines are usually designed to be consumed in their youth, and not intended for ageing. Chenin is also planted in small areas of the U.S., Australia and New Zealand, but is often used in blends in these regions, rather than being made into single-varietal wines.